- China’s military recently carried out a third test of a long-range DF-31A ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) capable of hitting the United States with nuclear warheads. U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports said the flight test took place July 24 in China and highlights Beijing’s large-scale nuclear force buildup.
- According to intelligence reports, China's military has “more than 15” DF-31A launchers for the solid-fueled, single-warhead ICBM that has a range greater than 6,835 miles (12.658 Km). Regarding warheads, some missile specialists say the DF-31A is capable of carrying up to five nuclear warheads.
- The Pentagon’s 2011 annual report on China’s military stated that China is continuing to modernize its nuclear forces by enhancing silo-based ICBMs and adding harder-to-detect mobile missile. “In recent years, the road-mobile, solid-propellant [DF-31 and DF-31A] intercontinental range ballistic missiles have entered service,” the report said, adding that the DF-31 A “can reach most locations within the continental United States.”
DF-41 and JL-2/2A
- The July 24 DF-31A test came exactly a year after the Chinese conducted what U.S. officials said was one of the first flight tests of a new longer-range ICBM called the DF-41, which is expected to be China’s first long-range missile capable of carrying multiple warheads (up to 10 nuclear warheads).
- About this matter, Rick Fisher (China military affairs specialist at the International Assessment and Strategy Center) says: "The DF-31A fleet will soon be joined by an initial force of up to 36 JL-2 or JL-2A submarine-launched nuclear missiles within the next year, and these will be followed by multiple warhead or MIRV capable DF-41 road mobile ICBMs.”
MIRVs and decoy warheads
- China is developing Multiple-Independently targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs) for its missiles and also has used decoy warheads designed to fool U.S. missile defense sensors.
- A recently published report by the Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center concluded “China has the most active and diverse ballistic missile development program in the world. It is developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading missile systems, and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses.”